Volunteers log hours, garner awards
Fort Polk volunteers present a symbolic check to Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk April 21. The check represents the number of man-hours logged by volunteers at Fort Polk in 2008. The notional value of those hours is $764,994.

The gathering at Fort Polk's Warrior Community Center April 21 looked like a "who's who on Fort Polk." Unit leaders and agency supervisors assembled to recognize installation volunteers and to award the volunteer of the year.

Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, said the event was momentous. "We do a lot of ceremonies, and they're all significant but I can say this one is my favorite because we take a moment to give credit to the folks who are helping silently, and out of the goodness of their heart all year round," he said.
The volunteer program is important for the Army in the long term, said Yarbrough. He indicated that Families are a critical part of the Army's success.

"Most volunteers have targeted Family programs that benefit our children, our Families and our Soldiers," he said. "That could be the highest strategic impact on our Army today.
"These volunteers have Families too, but they find time to say 'I can give a little bit more.' They don't take the stance that 'somebody else out there will show up.' It's a personal commitment that says volumes about someone's moral fiber, work ethic and spirit of giving. It seems to me that the harder the strain is on Families, the more people rise to the surface and say 'I can do this.'"

Yarbrough said volunteers permeate Fort Polk and inspire the people around them, too. "These volunteers affect all parts of Fort Polk," Yarbrough said. "The second order effect of their work is the power of their positive example. You can't put a price on what volunteers give us. No amount of money could pay for the spirit they bring to our post."

Yarbrough said the Army is unique in its utilization of volunteer manpower. "If you ask someone who works in a civilian corporation about their volunteer program, they'll tell you they never heard about it," he said. "They go to work, do their time and go to work the next day. That's what makes us different."

Yarbrough awarded each of the nominees for volunteer of the year with a certificate. "As I hand you an award, know that you are accepting it from the nearly 10,000 Soldiers and 18,000 Family members on this post that you've benefited," he said. "All of those people who could not fit in this room are telling you on this one night of the year, 'thanks.'"

Michael Lanham, Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager at Fort Polk, was one of the judges for the volunteer of the year award.
"It was a tough decision," he said. "There were a lot of good nominees. It came down to what they gave to the community, and the sacrifices they made in their Families."

Veronica Strauch, a volunteer at Army Community Service, was awarded volunteer of the year. She said that her kids are grown she has had more time for volunteering. "I didn't have the opportunity before, but as the spouse of a retired Soldier, I have the chance to volunteer at Fort Polk, and I'm grateful for that," she said. Straugh performs data entry and organizes events for the Army Volunteer Program. "I enjoy helping other Family members and Soldiers," she said. "I wanted to do something that benefited the Army community."

Volunteer awards were presented to:
Family Readiness Groups:
Jenny Maddi, Monica Bailey, Lindsey Allen, Tonisha Kennebrew, Gina Fontenot, Kathryn Fresh, Rhonda Moody, Tammy Williams, Fabrine Comacho, Kathy Kraft, Kristine Rance, Crystal Eisele, Connie Doucet, Jessica Albertson, Wendy Teague, Wendy Cooper. Group winner: Crystal Eisele.
Large community groups:
Dorothy Howard, Mary Callaway, Aileen Buchheim, Guzhamal DeFelice, Veronica Strauch, Katie Hafner, Nicola Laury, Tracey Gilbert, Katreena Dodd, Kathryn Fresh, Billy Moody, Rhonda Moody, Barbara Perez. Group winner: Veronica Strauch.
Child and youth groups:
Kelli Neiman, Jennifer Galbraith, Sergeant Maj. Timothy Dye, Andrea Disque, Patricia Moffitt. Group winner: Sergeant Maj. Timothy Dye.
Small community groups:
Judi Dewhurst, Joyce Baird. Group winner: Judi Dewhurst.
Youth volunteers:
Brandi Brown, Cameron Misko, Christine Bobak. Group winner: Christine Bobak.

Page last updated Fri April 24th, 2009 at 14:42